Hyperkeratosis is a thickening of the outer skin layer, more precisely the horny layer, which among other things contains keratin (hence the word "Hyper"- too much and"Keratosis“- Horn) contains. The horny layer normally plays a protective role, but various causes can lead to a disruption and thus increased formation of the cornea.

Causes of Hyperkeratosis

  • Mechanical stimuli: Continuous irritation of the skin, such as increased pressure on one area, leads to increased formation of cells in this region of the skin, which makes it thicker.
  • UV radiation: UV radiation also leads to an increased formation of skin cells and thus the skin becomes thicker here too.
  • Infections or a vitamin A deficiency can also lead to hyperkeratosis. Hyperkeratosis, which is not caused by irritation of the skin, can also be an inherited disease, but this is often noticeable in childhood.

Forms of hyperkeratosis

There are many different forms of hyperkeratosis, here are a few:

  • Warts
  • Corns
  • Calluses
  • Actinic keratosis

Symptoms of hyperkeratosis

Symptoms vary depending on the type of hyperkeratosis. With corns, pain is often in the foreground, as a cone-shaped thickening forms that grows towards the bones and thus exerts pressure.

In the other forms of hyperkeratosis, pain is seldom present, or symptoms are generally rarely found.

prophylaxis: At Corns and calluses, good shoes or insoles can prevent them from forming.

The actinic keratosis arises from long-term exposure to the sun, it is particularly common on the scalp. Sunscreen or protective headgear is advisable here. Warts often result from a viral infection, so the only prophylaxis consists of hygienic measures, such as wearing shoes in public bathing establishments.


A visual diagnosis is usually sufficient, in rare cases a biopsy be advisable. How to exclude Skin cancer in actinic keratosis.

Treatment of hyperkeratosis

The treatment of hyperkeratosis again depends on the form:

For corns, treatment is based on the depth of the hyperkeratosis. Surgical removal can bring relief for very deep-seated corns; certain solutions or plasters may also be sufficient for smaller corns.

With calluses, mechanical removal and comfortable footwear are often sufficient.

Warts can be removed surgically, by freezing or using various ointments. Please consult your family doctor.

Actinic keratosis can be surgically removed, treated by freezing with liquid nitrogen or by cold light therapy.
More on removing corns

Further topics from this area


Warts are skin changes that can be caused by different pathogens. Some species are transmitted through smear or contact infection.
Here you get to the topic: warts


A corn is an increase in the cornea. The main cause of corns is permanent pressure or friction on the skin, e.g. due to tight shoes.
Here you get to the topic: Corns

Actinic keratosis

Akinitic keratosis is a precursor to cancer. This leads to the multiplication of skin cells, which is caused by chronic exposure to the sun.
Here you get to the topic: Actinic Keratosis